Male hormones may promote infection by virus that causes Kaposi's sarcoma

September 28, 2017, Public Library of Science
Working model of AR-mediated phosphorylation of EphA2 at Ser897 which facilitates the KSHV entry. Credit: Wang X, et al. (2017)

Male hormones may facilitate infection with a virus that can cause a type of cancer known as Kaposi's sarcoma. This finding, published in PLOS Pathogens by Ke Lan's group of the State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan University, China, could help explain why men have an increased risk of developing Kaposi's sarcoma.

Earlier studies have suggested that men are more vulnerable to infection with Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), and more DNA from this virus is detected in infected men than in infected women. This suggests that may influence KSHV infection, but their precise role has remained mysterious.

To investigate how male hormones might influence KSHV infection, the authors of the new study performed a variety of experiments with human cell cultures. These experiments focused on the , a protein found in the outer membrane of some . Both men and women have androgen , but they are activated by hormones (such as testosterone) that are produced at much higher levels in men.

The researchers used a technique known as RNA interference to inhibit androgen receptor activity in the and then exposed the cells to KSHV. They found that AR inhibition led to much lower levels of KSHV genetic material detected in the cells than in control cells. Cells treated with 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that activates the androgen receptor, had increased levels of KSHV. This suggests that both the androgen receptor and DHT promote KSHV infection.

Further experiments revealed the molecular details of this effect. The researchers found that the androgen receptor triggers a molecular signaling pathway that primes another receptor known as ephrin receptor A2 to permit KSHV to enter the cell—the first step of infection.

With further research, these findings could help guide efforts to develop drugs that could prevent KSHV infection and reduce the risk of Kaposi's sarcoma. Since ephrin receptor A2 is also involved in other viral infections, such as hepatitis C, the findings could be relevant to other diseases as well.

"Male hormones," the authors further explain, "facilitate Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infection through activation of viral receptor EphA2."

Explore further: Viral microRNAs responsible for causing AIDS-related cancer

More information: Wang X, Zou Z, Deng Z, Liang D, Zhou X, Sun R, et al. (2017) Male hormones activate EphA2 to facilitate Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infection: Implications for gender disparity in Kaposi's sarcoma. PLoS Pathog 13(9): e1006580. doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006580

Related Stories

Viral microRNAs responsible for causing AIDS-related cancer

January 13, 2014
For the first time, scientists and engineers have identified a critical cancer-causing component in the virus that causes Kaposi's sarcoma, the most common cancer among HIV-infected people. The discovery lays the foundation ...

Chimera viruses can help the fight against lymphomas

September 15, 2017
Researchers from Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) Lisboa have created a chimera virus that allows the study of molecules to treat cancers caused by human herpes virus infection in mice models of disease.

Study identifies trigger for alternate reproduction of HIV-related cancer virus

April 17, 2012
A research team led by Children's National Medical Center has identified a trigger that causes latent Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) to rapidly replicate itself. KSHV causes Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion ...

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.